Saul Williams reads his poem "Rottweiler Choir" at Amiri Baraka's funeral in Newark
Saul Williams reads his poem "Rottweiler Choir" at Amiri Baraka's funeral in Newark

OKP Premiere: Saul Williams Unveils His Poem "Rottweiler Choir" [Composed For Amiri Baraka's Funeral]

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

photo by Khalid Naji-Allah for the Washington Informer

Like many OKP readers, we were by turns moved and exhilarated by the firsthand account of Amiri Baraka's homegoing services in Newark this past weekend, shared with us by artist Dwayne Rodgers . The emotional crescendo of Dwayne's account is undoubtedly this sentence:

"During the service, poet Saul Williams intoned 'This is a stick up. Amiri get out of the coffin'–and then he spoke of Lazarus."

Okayplayer is honored that Saul has chosen this space to unveil that poem, composed in Baraka's honor and delivered to the assembled survivors and mourners that day in Newark, making Okayplayer the publisher of record for this original work. Without further pre-amble, we present that poem, titled "Rottweiler Choir" in full. Try to remain calm.

This NGH died for something. 1

I don't go for old age.

I don't go for disease.

I say murder.

Which poets die of natural causes?

Which poems kill?

I saw the rifles pointed.

Jesse Jackson with that blood on his shirt.


Pitbull orchestra.

Rottweiler choir.

Monk on an “expression-scriber.”

Sometimes, pianos make better sense

of trees than the trees themselves.

Charlie Parker, what you say?

“A typewriter is corny!” ²

This is a stick up.

Amiri get out of the coffin.

I saw you dancing on Langston's ashes.

They raised the bounty

on Assata Shakur's head

and called it “inflation.'

Elvis ain't even

left the building.

(To be fair, he's patrolling outside

w/Lauryn Hill under house arrest.)

Lying-in-state of New Jersey.

Washington uncross the Delaware.

Tell the governor to stop up the bridge.

We can't let this poets' spirit get out of here.

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today

to get thru this thing called life.

Elctrc wrd: Life. It means Forever.

And I mean to tell you, there's nothing else.

Even death is a part of life.

Either this is a funeral

or this is the senate floor.

We all knew the politicians would show up.

We gon Lo-ku' the twitterverse.

God as a prostitute

male-model caught in

the World Trade bathroom.

Neither God could have made this up.

Neither God.

Neither God.

Somebody said Jesus

got caught at the border.

I say, if you let Lazarus fly

Amiri get up and walk.

Can't go out like that.

American culture is televisional.

Time to conceptualize a series.

The good news is

half of America was

waiting for u to die

in order to read u.

I saw an eagle flying over Harlem.

NGH I'm not even makin' this up.

Riverside Drive.


Leaning on a light post.

The New York Times

ain't exactly caught up.

Shot him down in a polarizing vortex.

Amiri Baraka

was no centrist

unless u count

right between

the eyes.

1. The concept behind MartyrLoserKing is truth. It's true that the concept of "the truth" is subjective, but there are realities. And while it may be true that some are born into wealth, realistically most of us aren't. Wealth, another concept based in denoting financial worth, is also subjective. Through means of capital it is said that wealth is acquired. But man-made capital has not been proven to out-value the natural occurrence of well-being, health, clear perspective (ha ha “clear”), and what may come from feeling grounded and in one's strength on this planet. We cannot monetize the reality of being, only the cost of living. My question is whether you are alive?

A martyr has given his life for a cause. (It is a matter of cause and effect. A matter of principle. Make principle of matter. Construct. Harmonize. Synthesize unions. Complete the equation. If not, what is it all for? For fear of flying form not unions. Form unions to fly.)


2. Technology & Ethos,Vol. 2: Book of Life by Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)